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The Reader staff was informed by publisher Alison Draper Monday that our corporate world just shrank a little. The Creative Loafing weeklies in Tampa and Charlotte, North Carolina, have been sold to SouthComm Inc. of Nashville, Tennessee. Terms were not disclosed.
The sale means that CL Inc. now consists of three weeklies, each in a major market: the Chicago Reader, the Washington City Paper, and Creative Loafing Atlanta. Marty Petty, CL Inc.'s Florida-based CEO, has resigned. While remaining publisher of the Reader, Draper will take on the expanded duties of vice president and group publisher. She'll report directly to the CL Inc. board installed by Atalaya Capital Management, the private equity fund that took control of CL Inc. when it emerged from bankruptcy in 2009.
In a farewell note to CL Inc. employees, Petty said the company is close to achieving "significant stabilization" in tough times, and went on, "However, the challenges ahead remain significant. And, just as we’ve asked each of you to adjust your own operations and make very difficult expense reduction decisions, we too at corporate must follow suit and do the same." Therefore, she was leaving the company.
I'll miss the occasional visits of Petty, whom I liked for reasons not limited to the fact we went to the same high school and journalism school. That said, my personal, and largely visceral, reaction to Draper's announcement was good riddance to CL Inc.'s two smallest newspapers, and to decisions made from hundreds of miles away. The more local autonomy the better.
SouthComm already publishes alternative weeklies in Nashville, Louisville, and Kansas City, along with other titles.